Coveney warns against adding to trauma of scan­dal vic­tims

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARIE O’HAL­LO­RAN

No vic­tims of the Cer­vi­calCheck can­cer screen­ing con­tro­versy should be treated in a way that adds to their trauma, Tá­naiste Si­mon Coveney has said.

Mr Coveney was re­spond­ing in the Dáil to Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Do­herty, who said two women with cer­vi­cal can­cer “who do not have time on their side” were hav­ing dif­fi­culty get­ting their own med­i­cal records.

Mr Do­herty said the women’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives had been as­sured the doc­u­men­ta­tion would be avail­able. But when they arrived at Cer­vi­calCheck head­quar­ters in Lim­er­ick last Fri­day “they were told the doc­u­men­ta­tion would not be made avail­able and they were es­corted off the premises”.

“This was done in the pres­ence of the pro­gramme man­ager for Cer­vi­calCheck John Glee­son,” he said.

The is­sue had been raised by Cian O’Con­nell, solic­i­tor for Vicky Phe­lan whose High Court case led to the con­tro­versy be­ing made pub­lic.

The Done­gal TD also said sup­ports pledged to women and fam­i­lies af­fected by the mat­ter had not been re­ceived more than a week later.

Mr Do­herty said the Gov­ern­ment had re­peat­edly stated that there would be a pack­age of sup­ports avail­able to the women af­fected and that pend­ing court cases will be dealt with through me­di­a­tion.

“We un­der­stand there are more cases to be lodged this week,” he said.

No sup­port

He said no sup­port ser­vices were of­fered to Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died from cer­vi­cal can­cer in 2015. She was one of 209 women not in­formed of the cer­vi­cal screen­ing au­dit. Mr Teap told the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day that fam­i­lies had not re­ceived the sup­ports.

Mr Do­herty claimed that “what comes from Gov­ern­ment is more about be­ing seen to take ac­tion, rather than de­liv­er­ing sub­stan­tive ac­tion”.

How­ever, the Tá­naiste said “there is no ques­tion that any in­for­ma­tion or files will be hid­den from any­body”.

“No vic­tims here should be treated in a way that adds any fur­ther to the trauma they have wit­nessed and the chal­lenges they con­tinue to face,” he said.

Mr Coveney said that “if any com­mit­ments were made to make files avail­able to com­mit­tees then that in­for­ma­tion will be forth­com­ing”.

He said Mr Teap’s com­ments about sup­ports had in­flu­enced the pack­ages that would be tai­lor-made in terms of items such as med­i­cal cards and out-of-pocket ex­penses. He in­sisted that Gov­ern­ment had tried to re­spond to the needs and wants of those af­fected by the cri­sis and “we are ap­point­ing peo­ple within the HSE to go out and talk to fam­i­lies” to en­sure “we get that pack­age right”.

Mr Do­herty re­peated his call for the pub­li­ca­tion of doc­u­ments that had been promised to Oireach­tas com­mit­tees in­clud­ing the 2014 Cer­vi­calCheck au­dit.

He also re­peated a call for the pub­li­ca­tion of ad­vice from the chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer to Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar, when he was min­is­ter for health, on manda­tory dis­clo­sure.

Mr Do­herty said the Depart­ment of Health’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer was ad­vised of the Cer­vi­calCheck scan­dal at about the same time that Mr Varad­kar changed his view from leg­is­lat­ing for manda­tory to vol­un­tary dis­clo­sure of se­ri­ous pa­tient safety in­ci­dents.

Mr Coveney told him that any doc­u­ments promised would be pro­vided.

Pearse Do­herty said the women had been promised sup­port by the Gov­ern­ment

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